It was in May 2003 that the girls and our cat and I boarded a plane, taking us from Rochester and X to L.A., and our new lives as a single parent family.
I will not deny it; that first year of single motherhood sucked a lot.
In addition to starting life over again, starting a new job, moving a couple of times, and dealing with the girls' adjustment to life without father, I was grieving. And making it even harder for myself by feeling like I had no right to my grief.
I had left him. I had moved. Everything had been my decision, so I didn't feel like I could feel bad about any of it.
But I did.
I knew it was the right thing to do, but it took some therapy to know that it was also okay to not necessarily be happy about it, either. That it was okay to mourn the loss of the life that I had wanted, that I had once believed I had, that I knew I would never have. And I had loved X for a long time, and it was okay to mourn the loss of that love that I had felt. And he had loved me in his own way, but I could also mourn the loss of a love that he could never give me.
Of course, that mourning had to be meticulously scheduled. I had to work, I had kids to feed, bathe and raise. I had to keep building our new life even as I mourned the old. It took a while.
And 10 years later, I am loving a life I never knew I wanted. I never knew I could juggle this much. I never knew I could be this close to my girls. I never knew I could have so many friends and so much love in my life.
Somehow I've managed to build this new life and strengthen our family and do it all my way. The girls and I have so many great memories of these last 10 years.
10 years ago, I was lost, angry and scared, but I can't fault myself for any of that. Had I not been those things, I wouldn't have delved into this new chapter of my life. And I know it was the best decision I ever made so that I can be here now. Long-time readers know that I hate to say I'm happy because that's an emotion with a beginning, a middle and an end. But I can say that I'm very happy to be celebrating this decade of single motherhood.
To all the single mothers, please know that you have much to celebrate this Mother's Day. But if what you really need to give yourself is a little time to grieve, please do. Tears are more valuable than flowers any day. The love of yourself and your children will make it a very special Mother's Day no matter what.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!